Tag: James Joyce

Public domain and copyright terms

A little late for Public Domain Day (blogged here last year – and the issues there are updated here), here’s a list of written, artistic, and musical works which have now entered the public domain; and here’s a map of countries’ standard copyright terms, (created by Balfour Smith, Program Coordinator of the Center for the Study of the Public Domain, Duke University School of Law):


Happy public domain day! – Updated

James Joyce at National Wax MuseumThe combination of sections 24 and 35 of the Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000 (also here; implementing EU Directives) means that copyright in a literary work expires from the first of January, 70 years after the death of the author (and it is the same for artistic works). For this reason, 1 January is Public Domain Day in the EU (and other life-plus-70-years jurisdictions), if not in the US (see: Communia | CSPD | Dag Blog | Everybody’s Libraries | ex Africa semper aliquid novi Africa | Excess Copyright | Fair Duty | Michael Geist | Mike Linksvayer | Public Domain Day | Public Domain Manifesto | Public Domain Review | Techdirt here and here | The Atlantic Wire | Wikipedia).

Since James Joyce died on 13 January 1941, it means that he is among the many famous authors whose published works fall into the public domain today (1709 Blog | BBC | Irish Times here and here | Linda Scales | RTÉ | TheJournal.ie | The Verge).

I visited the National Wax Museum today, and, among the many photographs I took were the image of Joyce above left (click on the image for a larger size), and this sentence (presumably a facsimile of Joyce’s handwriting, quoting from a letter he wrote to one of the early French translators of Ulysses):

Note by James Joyce at National Wax Museum

The note says:

I’ve put in so many enigmas and puzzles, that it will keep the professors arguing for centuries over what I meant, and that’s the only way of ensuring one’s immortality.

James Joyce

Happy Public Domain Day and Happy New Year!

Updates: (1) I’ve added some links above; my favourite is the link to the 1709 Blog, which is the first of a series – during each of the twelve days of Christmas, that blog is bringing readers some information concerning an author, composer, artist or creator who died in 1941 and whose works fall into the public domain in 2012 in countries which operate a “life plus 70 years” copyright term.

(2) There’s a great poster by Derecho a LEER, via Sarolta, and another by the Center for the Study of the Public Domain.

(3) Bonus link via Sinéad Gleeson on twitter (@sineadgleeson): 1929 recording of James Joyce reading from Finnegan’s Wake on YouTube.

Further update: two interesting Joyce commentaries: (i) Gordon Bowker, author of a biography of Joyce: An end to bad heir days: The posthumous power of the literary estate; and (ii) Mark O’Connell Has James Joyce Been Set Free?.

Should galleries and museums display offensive art?

'The Death of American Spirituality' by David Wojnarowicz (1987) from the collection of John Carlin and Renee Dossick, via the Queer Arts siteI have on this blog regularly discussed the extent to which offensive speech can be restricted. For example, there are many (many) posts on this blog on censorship and blasphemy. Furthermore, I have referred to the censorship of Guillaume Apollinaire (here and here), Carolina Gustavsson, Aldous Huxley, DH Lawrence (here, here and here), James Joyce, John Latham, Robert Mapplethorpe and Vladimir Nabokov. Moreover, I have analysed the kinds of reasons why this kind of speech should not be censored: free speech means freedom for the thought we hate, even that of David Irving (eg, here, here, here, and here), Jean-Marie le Pen, or Kevin Myers, and even – especially! – in multi-cultural societies, especially – especially!! – online.

I was reminded of all of this by two recent blogposts. (more…)

Is Apollinaire obscene? The ECHR says: no!

Cover of 'Les Onze Mille Verges' via AmazonWhen I was growing up, I read a children’s book called The Arabian Nights, an innocent version of the Islamic classic One Thousand and One Nights. Perhaps surprisingly, a group of Egyptian lawyers has recently called for a ban of a newly-released version of the Nights, on the grounds that it is “obscene” and could lead people to “vice and sin”. At the same time, another Egyptian group has called for a ban on the controversial novel Azazeel (Beelzebub) by Youssef Ziedan, which won the 2009 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. And, irony of ironies, just in time for Bloomsday, a manga comic book version of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses had almost been banned from the Apple App Store for obscene images, but Apple then relented, and reversed its earlier decision to remove panels containing nude images, though it still continues to reject less famous apps.

These examples of censorship of literature on the grounds of obscenity are simply the latest instances of a long and dishonourable tradition. In an earlier post, I considered whether Lady Chatterley’s Lover is obscene. In Akdas v Turkey 41056/04 (15 February 2010) (judgment in French; press release in English), the European Court of Human Rights was faced with a similar question earlier this year, when it had to consider whether a Turkish ban on Guillaume Apollinaire‘s Les Onze Mille Verges (or, The Eleven Thousand Rods) was consistent with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It held that the ban infringed Article 10 (see see ECHR Blog | Guardian | Inforrm | Strasbourg Observers). However, the reasoning by which it reached this eminently sensible conclusion could have profound consequences for states attempting to rely on “the protection of morals” in Article 10(2) to justify restrictions on speech otherwise protected by Article 10(1).

In Handyside v UK 5493/72, [1976] ECHR 5, (1976) 1 EHRR 737 (7 December 1976), the first case on Article 10, the Court took a broad view of what was protected by Article 10(1), but when it came to whether a restiction could be said, in terms of Article 10(2) to be “necessary … for the protection of morals”, the Court held that there is no “uniform European conception of morals” (para 48), with the result that States were afforded quite a generous margain of appreciation to determine in the first instance whether a restriction was indeed necessary for the protection of morals. Subsequent cases have taken a similar approach, but Akdas v Turkey marks a signficant departure from this model.

Paying due obeisance to the Handyside approach, the Court nevertheless tempered it by observing that more than a century had passed since the first publication of the work in France, that it had thereafter been published in numerous countries in various languages, and it that had been inducted into the prestigious Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, now an imprint of Gallimard, a dozen years before being seized in Turkey. As a consequence, the Court held that reliance upon the margin of appreciation would not avail Turkey in this case (in Inforrm’s Blog translation):

[30] … the recognition given to the cultural, historical and religious singularities of member states of the Council of Europe cannot go so far as to prevent public access in a particular language, in this case Turkish, to a work which forms part of the European cultural heritage.

This concept of the European cultural heritage has the potential to act as a signficant check upon over-reliance on the morals exceptoin in Article 10(2). It is certainly a long way from the Handyside assertion that there is no uniform European conception of morals. As Maris Burbergs on Strasbourg Observers points out:

the Court states that the acknowledgment of the cultural, historical and religious particularities of the Council of Europe’s member States could not go so far as to prevent public access in a particular language, in this instance Turkish, to a work belonging to the European literary heritage. Accordingly, the application of the legislation in force at the time of the events had not been intended to satisfy a pressing social need.

Antoine Buyse on ECHR Blog goes further:

Thus, apparently, what has become part of the “canon of art” can no longer be prohibited within Europe. One may wonder what happens in cases where such works truly are offensive to large groups of people and also one may question who decides when a work becomes elevated to this European literary Olympus. Here the Court becomes an interesting player in the ongoing discussion on what is Europe’s common heritage!

Similarly, Inforrm’s Blog says that this conclusion has wide ranging implications:

Many readers of Eleven Thousand Rods will find the contents of the book highly offensive – as indeed did the French public at the time of its publication and for many decades later. When the book was published in England in the 1970s whole chapters were deleted and replaced by short descriptions of the violent acts which were described. The idea that, four decades later, any restriction on the publication anywhere within the Council of Europe States, whatever local sensibilities, is at first sight very surprising. The notion of the “European literary heritage” is one which lacks clear boundaries – certainly in countries which do not have the benefit of the “Pléiade” collection. The judgment does, however, show that contrary to the views of some English critics, the Court of Human Rights continues to take a robust view in “traditional freedom of expression” areas such as obscenity.

One way to test this rather fluid conception of the European literary heritage is to apply it to not just to European books like The Eleven Thousand Rods, Ulysses or Lady Chatterly’s Lover, but to non-European classics such as The One Thousand and One Nights or to important recent publications like Azazeel. If there is no substantive or qualitative difference between them, then the pressure will be on the Court to expand its notion of the European literary heritage, and to narrow the margin of appreciation afforded to member states when the seek to rely on the morals exception. This would be no bad thing.

Updates: Joyce, hecklers and broadcasting

Updates logo, via Apple websiteI suppose if I spent ages thinking about it, I could find a spurious thread linking three stories that caught my eye over the last few days, but in truth there is none, except that they update matters which I have already discussed on this blog. (Oh, all right then, they’re all about different aspects of freedom of expression: the first shows that copyright should not prevent academic discussion; the second shows that hecklers should not have a veto; and the third is about broadcasting regulation).

First, I had noted the proclivity of the estate of James Joyce to be vigorous in defence of its copyrights; but it lost a recent case and now has agreed to pay quite substantial costs as a consequence:

Joyce estate settles copyright dispute with US academic

The James Joyce Estate has agreed to pay $240,000 (€164,000) in legal costs incurred by an American academic following a long-running copyright dispute between the two sides. The settlement brings to an end a legal saga that pre-dates the publication in 2003 of a controversial biography of Joyce’s daughter, Lucia, written by Stanford University academic Carol Shloss. …

More: ABA Journal | Chronicle | Law.com | San Francisco Chronicle | Slashdot | Stanford CIS (who represented Shloss) esp here | Stanford University News (a long and informative article).

Second, I have long been of the view that hecklers should not be allowed to veto unpopular views, and none come more unpopular that holocaust-denier David Irving. Now comes news that NUI Galway’s Lit & Deb society have withdrawn their controversial invitation to Irving for security reasons:

David Irving address in NUIG cancelled due to ‘security concerns’

The proposed visit of the controversial historian David Irving to the NUI, Galway Literary & Debating Society has been cancelled. In a statement the Lit & Deb said the cancellation was “due to security concerns and restrictions imposed by the university authorities”. …

(more…)

Blawg Review #164

0. Prolegomenon, or Why me?
Early cover of Ulysses, via James Joyce Centre website.Today is Bloomsday, the centrepiece of a weeklong festival in Dublin celebrating the day in 1904 on which the events of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses unfold, which is the day Joyce first formally went out with Nora Barnacle (the story is told in the enthralling movie Nora; other movies with 16 June references include The Producers and Before Sunrise). In the novel, all human life is there; and Eamon Fitzgerald’s Rainy Day is currently by far the best guide to the important things in life: democracy, football, and technology. Expect a Bloomsday post today (this is last year’s; update: this is this year’s). Just like Oh Brother, Where art Thou?, the novel loosely parallel’s Homer’s Odyssey, and this blogpost will very very loosely parallel Joyce’s Ulysses (or at least his chapter headings). (more…)

Fair Use – Recalibrating the balance in Fair Dealing

'Scales of Justice', a public domain IP image, via wikipediaThis is a call to arms; or at least, a call for legislation which would radically recast EU copyright law.

Intellectual property law and policy are all about innovation, both encouraging it and protecting its fruits. But these are potentially opposing, perhaps even incompatible, goals: if we reward one innovator with a monopoly over the fruits of the innovation, prohibiting others’ use of those fruits, then we risk preventing the next round of innovation. The challenge to law-makers is to strike the an appropriate balance between reward and innovation, by pitching the length of the monopoly at the right level, both in the breadth of its coverage and the length of its term, beyond which others might also use it.

The story of copyright provides a good example of this dilemma. (more…)